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Monuments of Hope

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Warning: This article discusses suicide

Learning Connexion graduate Suzie Harris will run a 62-kilometre ultramarathon, ending on the same mountain she attempted suicide, to send a message of hope to those suffering from mental health issues.

Seven years ago, Suzie took what she thought would be her final steps up Wellington's Mount Victoria.

But she made a life-changing decision. On that Saturday in 2012, she walked back down the hill into Wellington's emergency department to begin her long road to recovery.

This Saturday, seven years to the day, Suzie will run an ultramarathon to raise awareness about mental health in New Zealand.

The 62-kilometre run will begin in Johnsonville and end at that very same spot where she stood on Mt Vic in 2012.

"Seven years ago exactly, I walked up that same trail feeling so helpless, and now I'll be running it," the 32-year-old told Newshub.

"I am so grateful. I never thought I would make it, but I'm here. That last kilometre up Mt Vic is going to be the most poignant, hopeful, grieving moment of my life."

The 32-year-old has also created an art exhibition inspired by her experience in Te Whare o Matairangi, Wellington's inpatient psychiatric unit, where she spent seven months.

"In the inpatient unit, there's no day or night. There are just doctors, nurses, and patients screaming. And it feels like there's no hope. And that's why I'm doing this run and this exhibition - to show that there is hope."

Monuments of Hope will be exhibited from the 23rd to the 29th of September. It is comprised of objects which Suzie collected over her time spent in the psychiatric ward.

"Every day the nurse would come in with a little polystyrene cup and another little cup with your medication. So I just started saving the cups and other things too.

"For me, each cup represented another day that I had made it through."

She has spent the last few years working with all her found objects, instilling them with messages of hope and turning her pain and her recovery into art.

Suzie says she wants to tell a story of hope to New Zealander's who are suffering.

"When you're unwell, you want to get better but the idea of living differently is terrifying," she told Newshub.

"I want people who are in the same place I was to know not only is recovery possible, it's inevitable. Recovery is trusting and hoping for something you cannot see yet."

Her recovery has been long, but Suzie wants others to know it's possible.

"Trust that there is a hope and a strength and a courage in you that you don't see yet, but know it's there. And if you don't see it, then find people who do."

Suzie has advice for those with loved ones who are struggling with their mental health.

"I think the urge is, we see someone in pain, and we want to jump in and fix it for them," she told Newshub.

"But it's about walking alongside them, not walking for them."

Although you cannot take someone pain for them, Suzie says it's important to be there while they live through their pain.

"They hold all the strength and all the power and the more you take their power away, the more they believe they can't hold it."

"Be there, empower them in their decisions and empower them in themselves."

You can find out more about Monuments of Hope and contribute to Suzie's campaign here

Where to find help and support:

Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737

Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat

Samaritans - 0800 726 666

Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757

Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Reporting by Newshub and TLC